Labour to force Commons vote over plans to merge fire and police services
Labour will force a vote in the Commons today aimed at blocking controversial Government plans to merge fire and police services.
The party said its move comes as new figures show a rise in fire deaths, warning that budget cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service have gone too far.
Labour will call on the Government to commit to a statutory independent Fire and Rescue Service, with added responsibility for flooding, as opposed to the Policing and Crime Bill being used to legislate for Police and Crime Commissioners elected in May to run the fire service.
Labour said government figures showed almost 300 people died in fires across England in 2015, an increase of 21% on the previous year, the largest rise since figures were released in 2001/02.
Andy Burnham, shadow home secretary, said: "Emergency services cannot keep communities safe if ministers keep cutting the police and cutting the fire service too.
"These figures show that the Government's cuts have already gone too far. Labour will stand up for public safety - it is no time to be throwing fire in with the police."
Labour quoted warnings from fire chiefs from the six largest cities outside London that budget cuts of 50% over 10 years risk causing further casualties as response times deteriorate, stations close and investment in fire prevention is scaled back.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union will stage a protest outside Parliament to mark the debate on the future of their service.